Court Is in Session

Court Is in Session

Court Is in Session

Court Is in Session

Excerpt

Every American citizen knows that the American democracy rests firmly on three pillars: the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial. The Executive and the Legislative branches of our system are well known to all of us, their activities are reported in minute detail in the daily press, on the radio and on television. The President and his Cabinet, the Senators and the Representatives have the qualities and operate under conditions that make for popular appeal. They are glamorous or dramatic or entertaining and they appear constantly in the public eye. They go to the people and are with them.

But an essential characteristic of the Judiciary is dignity, which is, of course, not a quality that makes for familiarity. And so this blood brother in our political economy has become a sort of stepbrother. We don't think often about our courts; many of us know little about them and most of us don't understand quite how they operate.

Our courts are the great strength of our democratic system. It is in the courts that justice is administered and preserved. The courts constitute the essential safety valve by which the Legislative and Executive branches may be kept within bounds. They guarantee our safety, they provide the individual with security and protect his rights as against other individuals, majority as well as minority groups, and the state itself.

Yet the public is, on the whole, unaware of all this. Though the courtrooms are open to the public, scarcely one person in five thousand has ever witnessed a trial. Most people base their impression of what goes on in courtrooms on short, hastily written newspaper accounts of trials, on exaggerated, inaccurate, overdramatized movie and radio portrayals of trial scenes. This is wrong, and it is dangerous. For while we have found that the courts guarantee all rights and the political safety of the people, it is the people who must guarantee the safety of the courts. Failure to do so results in the kind of tragic farce and disaster we see in the courts of the totalitarian countries.

The people cannot protect the courts unless they know about them and just how justice is administered. And the only way they . . .

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